Sydney Thompson Dobell

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Rating: 4.33

Sydney Thompson Dobell Poems

Doctor. Ah! thou, too,
Sad Alighieri, like a waning moon
Setting in storm behind a grove of bays!
Balder. Yes, the great Florentine, who wove his web

NOR force nor fraud shall sunder us! O ye
Who north or south, on east or western land,
Native to noble sounds, say truth for truth,
Freedom for freedom, love for love, and God

Pile the pyre, light the fire-there is fuel enough and to spare;
You have fire enough and to spare with your madness and gladness;

The Son thou sentest forth is now a Thought-
A Dream. To all but thee he is as nought
As if he had gone back into the same

Captain be he, my England, who doth know
Not careful coasts, with inland welcomes warm;
But who, with heart infallible, can go

Traveller on foreign ground, whoe'er thou art,
Tell the great tidings! They went down that day
A Legion, and came back from victory


There came to me softly a small wind from the sea.
And it lifted a curl as it passed by me.
But I sang sorrow and ho the heavy day!

'Tumble and rumble, and grumble and snort,
Like a whale to starboard, a whale to port;
Tumble and rumble, and grumble and snort,

We could not turn from that colossal foe,
The morning shadow of whose hideous head
Darkened the furthest West, and who did throw

Fire away, fire away, boys must have their play,
There'll be hard work yet
Before sunset:
But what of the day when the boys have had their play?

Here lies who of two mighty realms was free;
The English-Spaniard, who lived England's good
With such a Spain of splendour in the blood


Oh Ladye fair, oh Ladye fair and mine,
Where'er thou be,
Canst thou divine
The Love that hungers thus in me?

Oh water, water-water deep and still,
In this hollow of the hill,
Thou helenge well o'er which the long reeds lean,

O'er our evening fire the smoke is like a pall,
And funeral banners hang about the arches of the hall,
In the gable end I see a catafalque aloof,

The murmur of the mourning ghost
That keeps the shadowy kine,
"Oh, Keith of Ravelston,
The sorrows of thy line!"

Return, return! all night my lamp is burning,
All night, like it, my wide eyes watch and burn;
Like it, I fade and pale, when day returning

Doth this hand live? Trust not a royal coat,
My country! Smite that cheek; there is no stain
But of the clay! no flush of shame or pain.

When we all lie still
Where churchyard pines their funeral vigil keep,
Thou shalt rise up early

I'm leaning where you loved to lean in eventides of old,
The sun has sunk an hour ago behind the treeless wold,

'Mother, I hear a word
In the air!'
Play on, play on, my son,
The word thou hast heard is some bright sweet bird

Sydney Thompson Dobell Biography

Sydney Thompson Dobell (April 5, 1824 – August 22, 1874), English poet and critic, was born at Cranbrook, Kent.

His father was a wine merchant, his mother a daughter of Samuel Thompson (1766-1837), a London political reformer. The family moved to Cheltenham when Dobell was twelve years old. He was educated privately, and never attended either school or university. He refers to this in some lines on Cheltenham College in imitation of Chaucer, written in his eighteenth year. After a five years engagement he married, in 1844, Emily Fordham, a lady of good family. An acquaintance with Mr (subsequently Sir James) Stansfeld and with the Birmingham preacher-politician, George Dawson (1821-1876), which afterwards led to the foundation of the Society of the Friends of Italy, fed the young enthusiast's ardour for the liberalism of the day.

Meanwhile, Dobell wrote a number of minor poems, instinct with a passionate desire for political reform. The Roman appeared in 1850, under the nom de plume of Sydney Yendys. Next year he travelled through Switzerland with his wife; and after his return he formed friendships with Robert Browning, Philip Bailey, George MacDonald, Emanuel Deutsch, Lord Houghton, Ruskin, Holman Hunt, Mazzini, Tennyson and Carlyle. His second long poem, Balder, appeared in 1854. The three following years were spent in Scotland.

Perhaps his closest friend at this time was Alexander Smith, in company with whom he published, in 1855, a number of sonnets on the Crimean War, which were followed by a volume on England in Time 4 War. Although by no means a rich man he was always ready to help needy men of letters, and it was through his exertions that David Gray's poems were published. In 1869 a horse, which he was riding, fell and rolled over with him. His health, which had for several years necessitated his wintering abroad, was seriously affected by this accident, and he was from this time more or less of an invalid until his death.

As a poet Dobell belongs to the spasmodic school, as it was named by Professor Aytoun, who parodied its style in Firmilian. The epithet, however, was first applied by Carlyle to Byron. The school includes George Gilfillan, Philip James Bailey, John Stanyan Bigg (1826-1865), Dobell, Alexander Smith, and, according to some critics, Gerald Massey. It was characterized by an under-current of discontent with the mystery of existence, by vain effort, unrewarded struggle, sceptical unrest, and an uneasy straining after the unattainable. It thus faithfully reflected a certain phase of 19th century thought.

The productions of the school are marked by an excess of metaphor and a general extravagance of language. On the other hand, they exhibit freshness and originality often lacking in more conventional writings. Dobell's poem, The Roman, dedicated to the interests of political liberty in Italy, is marked by pathos, energy and passionate love of freedom, but it is overlaid with monologue, which is carried to an ecstatically scatological excess in Balder, relieved though the latter is by fine descriptive passages, and by some touching songs. Dobell's suggestive, but too ornate prose writings were collected and edited with an introductory note by John Nichol (Thoughts on Art, Philosophy and Religion) in 1876.

In his religious views Dobell was a Christian of the Broad Church type; and socially he was one of the most amiable and true-hearted of men. His early interest in the cause of oppressed nationalities, shown in his friendship with Kossuth, Emanuel Deutsch and others, never lessened, although his views of home politics underwent some change from the radical opinions of his youth. In Gloucestershire Dobell was well known as an advocate of social reform, and he was a pioneer in the application of the co-operative system to private cnterprise.

The standard edition of his poems (1875) by Professor Nichol includes a memoir.

Sydney Dobell was also famous as an early breeder of Deerhounds. She has no record of pedigree but was given to him by Mr Ronald McDonald of Skye and of pure blood. She was supposed to be descended from the deerhounds of Cher Foreman McDonald. Later generations of his deerhounds were painted by Sydney Dobell's, brother in law, Briton Rivière, notably "The Empty Chair", which was first exhibited at the Dudley Gallery in 1869. It was bought for a geat deal of money by Howard Dobell his uncle.

The Best Poem Of Sydney Thompson Dobell

Dante, Shakespeare, Milton - From

Doctor. Ah! thou, too,
Sad Alighieri, like a waning moon
Setting in storm behind a grove of bays!
Balder. Yes, the great Florentine, who wove his web
And thrust it into hell, and drew it forth
Immortal, having burn’d all that could burn,
And leaving only what shall still be found
Untouch’d, nor with the small of fire upon it,
Under the final ashes of this world.
Doctor. Shakespeare and Milton!
Balder. Switzerland and home.
I ne’er see Milton, but I see the Alps,
As once, sole standing on a peak supreme,
To the extremest verge summit and gulf
I saw, height after depth, Alp beyond Alp,
O’er which the rising and the sinking soul
Sails into distance, heaving as a ship
O’er a great sea that sets to strands unseen.
And as the mounting and descending bark,
Borne on exulting by the under deep,
Gains of the wild wave something not the wave,
Catches a joy of going, and a will
Resistless, and upon the last lee foam
Leaps into air beyond it, so the soul
upon the Alpine ocean mountain-toss’d,
Incessant carried up to heaven, and plunged
To darkness, and still wet with drops of death
Held into light eternal, and again
Cast down, to be again uplift in vast
And infinite succession, cannot stay
The mad momentum, but in frenzied sight
Of horizontal clouds and mists and skies
And the untried Inane, springs on the surge
Of things, and passing matter by a force
Material, thro’ vacuity careers,
Rising and falling.
Doctor. And my Shakespeare! Call
Milton your Alps, and which is he among
The tops of Andes? Keep your Paradise,
And Eves, and Adams, but give me the Earth
That Shakespeare drew, and make it grave and gay
With Shakespeare’s men and women; let me laugh
Or weep with them, and you—a wager,—aye,
A wager by my faith—either his muse
Was the recording angel, or that hand
Cherubic, which fills up the Book of Life,
Caught what the last relaxing gripe let fall
By a death-bed at Stratford, and hence-forth
Holds Shakespeare’s pen. Now strain your sinews, poet,
And top your Pelion,—Milton Switzerland,
And English Shakespeare—
Balder. This dear English land!
This happy England, loud with brooks and birds,
Shining with harvests, cool with dewy trees,
And bloom’d from hill to dell; but whose best flowers
Are daughters, and Ophelia still more fair
Than any rose she weaves; whose noblest floods
The pulsing torrent of a nation’s heart:
Whose forests stronger than her native oaks
Are living men; and whose unfathom’d lakes
Forever calm the unforgotten dead
In quiet graveyards willow’d seemly round,
O’er which To-day bends sad, and sees his face.
Whose rocks are rights, consolidate of old
Thro’ unremember’d years, around whose base
The ever-surging peoples roll and roar
Perpetual, as around her cliffs the seas
That only wash them whiter; and whose mountains,
Souls that from this mere footing of the earth
Lift their great virtues thro’ all clouds of Fate
Up to the very heavens, and make them rise
To keep the gods above us!

Sydney Thompson Dobell Comments

john 5 characters 19 April 2020

I believe these poems are about deep space.

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